Thursday, March 13, 2008
Lessons from the Pews
When I was little, pews conjured up thoughts of great discomfort, lack of fun, boredom, rigidity, and who knows what else. It brought to mind people that sat a little too close that I didn't know all that well. It was a strange thought process that led me down a path that did not appreciate what pews really had to offer and what they bring to worship and to the church body.
It wasn't until recently that I have grown to appreciate pews for a number of reasons. Our pastor clued me in to some of its symbolism and as we worked to raise money to replace our old chairs the more excited I became about getting the pews into our sanctuary. It really pecame a priority for our congregation. Now that they are here it is a true blessing, indeed, for our congregation. Some of you may think that now we have become this old fuddy-duddy church or something (I do know of a few more "modern" churches that are going back to pews -- props to them!) However, there are some practical reasons for the pews as well. One thing, believe it or not, we actually increased the seating capacity in our sanctuary. It's also nice for families with wee little ones whose regular nap time falls during the service. If they can't quite make it through then they can lay in the pew and not fall between the chairs. I also greatly appreciate the "modesty railing" at the front for those of us sitting in the front row from time to time. There is less of a worry if a dress gets caught or something may be showing. ha!
Now, for the true meat of it all. When I was first learning about my new faith in Christ I was told "You should really work on your personal relationship with Jesus" or to "really focus on what is going on inside." Something along those lines. There wasn't a huge pressing need to be in a church it was more of a side thought. I needed to focus on me before ever thinking about church -- Just ME and Jesus. I am becoming more convinced these days that it isn't about ME but it is about WE. Yes, Jesus is coming back for me because I am apart of the WE... the bride of Christ, the Church. I realized that if I focused on ME too much I would never really come to care for and love the WE, the Church. I want people to say at the end of my life, "She loved the Church, the bride of Christ." On the other hand, if I focused more on the WE then the ME part of the equation would indeed be developed to be more like Jesus, loving who He loved, serving those along side others that do His bidding, I would be sharpened by those who have lived this life longer than I, gain wisdom from leaders and women that I know. It was revolutionary to me to think as a group the individual would be sharpened much more effectively than had I just been trying to go it alone. I am not down playing the importance of the "relationship" aspect with Jesus. We need to be in the Word, studying, praying, etc. But I don't think it's about ME and Jesus... it's WE and Jesus. We were created in community and for community for a reason. I think there is a reason the disciples were numbered as 12 and were sent out in pairs. And let us not forget the "God in three persons, blessed Trinity." There is always a level of community with the presence of Jesus.
All this is offered in pews. Pews bring us together. They are communal... we are COMMUNING with the true and living God...and each other. Again, it is not about ME in my MY individual chair. It's about the body of Christ. His Bride to be presented without blemish. It's really quite intense when you think about it. I think pews also make a statement in that this is a "house of God." This sanctuary is for worship not basketball. Those pews are not going anywhere. We don't see Moses and Aaron clearing out the tabernacle for a game of boccie ball. We see Jesus clearing the temple area because people are defiling it with overpriced sales of sacrifices. A place to be kept holy for Him.
Another thing about pews, well these pews in particular, is that they have "kneelers." We can practice the position of kneeling as we come before our Lord and Maker to give adoration, thanks, confession, and praise. We see often throughout the bible that many take a kneeling position of prayer. It's not to say that is the ONLY way but it is a way that is not often practiced in churches today. Why? What happened to reverent awe when we go to worship? I think that we get caught up in the lackadaisical and not really thinking and truly believing that God is in this place. We will get all spiffed up for a concert or some other special occasion (like meeting the Queen of England) but we simply roll out of bed with no thought or concern on how to present ourselves to our Savior. How did the Church get to this place?
These are things that rumble in my head these days as I learn things that I have never really thought about before and I think about where I have been and where I am going. I think that I shall stop here for now as I fear I could keep going and going and going.
Maybe more on another day...